Thursday, January 10, 2019

My 2019 Genealogy Writing Challenge

Having been unsuccessful in searching for a new genealogy writing challenge for this year, I decided to come up with one of my own. Each week I will be writing about the family I married into 40 years ago. As they say, you can choose your spouse, but you don’t get to choose the family that comes along with him or her. I’ve been blessed in both my husband and his extended family, who have always treated me as one of their own. This year I’m going to work my way backwards through the Wolterman clan, and in respect to the living, I will begin with my husband’s grandfather. Initially I will be focusing on the Wolterman men, and when I've gone back as far as my information allows, I'll switch to the females in the family tree.

George & Catherine Wolterman Family ~1915

Frank Conrad Wolterman was born 4 November 1899 in Wheatland Township, Carroll County, Iowa, the 10th of 13 children born to Gerhard (George) and Catherine (Woerdehoff) Wolterman. Frank’s siblings were: Margaret born in 1883, John born in 1885, Anna born in 1886, Gertrude born in 1888, Catherine born in 1889, Gerhard (George) born in 1891, Bernadine born in 1893, Peter born in 1895, Leonilla born in 1898, Clara born in 1901, Edmund born in 1903, and Albin born in 1907. All of the children were born in Carroll County, Iowa and grew up on the farm owned by their father.

Breda, Iowa ~1910
The nearest town was Breda, which was formed in 1877 when the Maple branch of the Chicago and Northwestern railroad was built through the territory. The town was named after the Dutch city of Breda. Many of the first settlers, however, came to the area from Galena, IL in 1869.

By 1899 there were 425 residents, mostly of German descent who spoke in their own native language. There were also 19 residents who spoke English and 11 who spoke Dutch. The vast majority of the community members were Catholic, and they attended church in Mt. Carmel. Tired of trudging the 5.5 miles on foot, by horseback or wagon, they petitioned the Catholic Church to construct one in their own town. By 1880 they had built the original wood frame St. Bernard Church in Breda. In 1888 a brick church was completed to handle the growing church population.

St. Bernard Church ~1910

When he was 18, Frank filled out a registration card for the World War 1 draft at the Local Board for the County of Carroll, State of Iowa. It was dated 12 September 1918. On it, he indicated that he was medium height, medium build, with blue eyes and black hair. It was very lucky for him that the war ended 11 November 1918.

Frank & Theresa's wedding day
Just a few short years later, it was at St. Bernard Church that Frank married Theresa Kathryn Determan on 6 June 1922.  He was 22 years old. Theresa, the daughter of Johann August and Mary Anna (Luchtel) Determan, was 19. The couple met at a shower for her stepsister, and they attended dances together. Theresa wore a wedding gown that had been sewn by her sister, Martha. Frank and Theresa had 11 children: Clarice, Rosemary, Duane, Gerald, Jeanette, Marilyn, Shirley, Stanley, Maribeth, Muriel, and Joleen.

Frank, like his father, was a farmer. They first farmed by Wall Lake in Sac County, Iowa, then in Maple River Township. The 1930 census from Maple River Township in Carroll County indicates that he was renting the property. Sometime between 1930 and 1935 the family moved to the Fonda, Iowa area. On the 1940 census Frank listed that they were renting a farm in Williams Township, Calhoun County, Iowa, and that the family had been in the same house in 1935. Williams Township is just south of Fonda. In 1950 they moved one final time to Fairfax, Minnesota, with Frank and his sons driving the combine and tractors all the way from Iowa to Minnesota. What a sight that must have been!

Frank & Theresa Wolterman family ~1945

On 9 October 1964 Frank died at the age of 64. He and Theresa had been married for 42 years. Theresa lived another 24 years, and was 84 when she died on 28 January 1988. Frank and Theresa are both buried in Saint Andrews Catholic Cemetery in Fairfax.

Wolterman graves

Monday, December 31, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 52

St. Louis Arch
This is the last week of the 2018 52 Ancestors Challenge and the writing prompt is, appropriately, Resolution. I am choosing not to write about an ancestor this week, instead focusing on a reflection of this year’s challenge. It has been wonderful to write about a different ancestor each week. The purpose of the yearly challenge is to get us to write down our ancestor’s stories, and this is a good way to do get it done.

Having said that, I don’t think I will be participating in the 2019 challenge. Personally, I found that many of the writing prompts did not inspire me, and some of that was probably due to the fact that I would take them too literally. The other issue I had was trying to avoid redundancy. Because I have written about many of the ancestors before in the February writing challenges I have participated in, it was a struggle to come up with new ancestors who fit the bill for the topic of the week’s writing prompt.

My resolution for the new year is to find a different challenge for myself, whether that is one I create myself or something I find on the internet. I definitely want to keep researching and writing, but I need to find something that doesn’t end up feeling like such a chore each week. I do genealogy because I find it interesting and fun. I certainly don’t want a writing challenge to take that away.

Here’s to breaking through some genealogy walls - and writing about it - in 2019!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 51

Since the writing prompt for last week was Naughty, it makes sense that this week’s would be Nice. I searched through the names in my family tree, looking for one that would be fun to write about. I found an Edgar Allan Poe, but first of all that was probably not a nice name to grow up with, and second he was a very distant relative by marriage only.

Then I found the name Rudolph Kemper, my paternal 4th great-uncle. Since it is just days before Christmas, I thought it might be fun to take a look at him. Rudolph was born about 1825 in Germany, the son of Henry William Kemper (my paternal 4th great-grandfather) and an unknown mother.

Henry arrived in Louisiana aboard the ship Mississippi on 23 December 1846, accompanied by his children: Anna Mary Kemper age 23, Herman Henry Kemper age 11, and Catherine Mary Kemper age 9. As Rudolph was 21 when the family left Germany, he either remained behind or had already traveled to America. I am assuming that Henry’s wife died in Germany prior to their departure.

The name Rudolph derives from two stems: hrod meaning fame, and olf meaning wolf. So in translation the meaning would be fame-wolf. In the United States we are all much more familiar with the name being associated with a famous reindeer. As the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer did not appear until 1939, Rudolph Kemper did not have to bear the bullying of other children laughing and calling him names. It would be interesting to know, though, if he did Americanize his name once he came to his new homeland. Did he go by Rudy? Or perhaps Rolf?

On my maternal side of the family, I have a 1st cousin 4 times removed who is named Rudolphus Orth. He was born in Germany in 1812. His brother John Orth named a son Rudolph Orth in 1845. So I have had a few fame-wolfs in the family.